1980s >> 1989 >> no-1024-december-1989
To New Readers
We believe that you share our concern for the well-being of people in our society, and perhaps, for the welfare of Earth itself and all its dependants. We write as members of a long-established independent democratic movement which seeks by persuasion and world-wide peaceful political organisation to transform our present society into one fit for humankind.
The problems of our world cannot be solved within the existing structures of production and government. Our world is divided into national areas dominated by class minorities in each country, which, either by private or corporate ownership or by state bureaucratic parties monopolize the means of production.
These ruling classes and their political representatives, by reason of a combination of historical circumstances, governmental, military and ideological control or influence, are able to keep the majority of the world’s population in subjection. In the decisive areas of the world this domination takes the form of people being denied access to the means of living except on the basis of working for a wage or salary. In the major countries of the world, the people who, in the widest sense, produce what we need to live, are wage-slaves.
Dominated by Capitalism
Our access to food, clothing, shelter and other needs is rationed by money. Even professional persons and those running small businesses are dominated by the system under which we live: capitalism. It is a world-system based upon the class monopoly of the means of production where things are produced and services rendered as commodities for sale at a profit. Labour-power also is a commodity: its price is what we receive as a wage or salary.
Each enterprise or grouping of capitalism, in competition with others in the market, must strive to increase the profit surplus which it makes after the investment of capital. If it fails to achieve sufficient profit to re-invest in new machinery and techniques it will lose out to more powerful groupings or nations.
Russia, China, Yugoslavia. Cuba and all other mis-called “socialist” regimes in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are part of this competitive process over markets, trade-routes, raw materials, strategic points and exploitable populations. These regimes are more accurately described as being “state-capitalist”: today, under internal and external pressures, some seek more efficient means of exploiting their wage-slaves. The Socialist Party right from the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917 has been aware that what transpired was not the establishment of, nor a development of, a socialistic society. We have always made clear our opposition to Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism and all similar undemocratic vanguard movements.
The class interests, values and drive for profit of the world-system have been the underlying reasons for the unprecedented destruction of life and resources throughout this century. This appalling process, made worse by new forms of pollution, including the spread of artificial radio-activity and the cutting-down of the rain forests, to say nothing of the possible effects of secret weapons, the existence of which it is reasonable to assume. This uncontrolled madness will continue unless we take the necessary democratic action to transform our way of life throughout the planet.
We believe that socialism can only be brought about by an overwhelming majority of the population, a majority which understands why capitalism must be replaced by socialism. If we are to bring into being production solely for use. where needs are self-determined, we must have a clear idea of how such a society could be established, organised and sustained. We must also ensure that the values and methods of the World Socialist Movement are fully consistent with its aims.
Socialism is a new world society where the means of production are commonly owned and where governments and systems of exchange, whether barter or money, have been replaced by democratic administration at local, regional and world levels: a society where there could be decentralized co-ordination of production with free access according to need. Information about how socialism could be organised is available in our pamphlet Socialism As A Practical Alternative.
Organise for a Better Life
Why have previous attempts to build a better world failed? In our view the terrible events of the twentieth century are in part a consequence of the fact that most of those who sought to ameliorate the lot of the majority had no clear alternative distinct from some form of the system of nations. of wage labour and capital, of money, prices, profits, of buying and selling. They had no clear understanding of the dynamics of capitalism. They had illusions about the politics of gradualism or insurrection or about revolutionary vanguards and state-capitalism. They clung to their illusions in the face of the facts of Labour administrations of capitalism or of the brutal dictatorships in the “East” over the workers. As a result of their unsound theories these “practical” men and women diverted the enthusiasm, unselfish devotion and energies of millions into political blind alleys. The advances that have been made are largely those made by workers themselves in producing in greater quantities and in organising to obtain more of the products. However, while capitalism is allowed to exist gains made are not necessarily permanent.
When confronted by the programme of socialism, “left-wing” reformists (apart from seldom being in favour of it) always pose the question: “What do we do in the meantime?” — never waking up to the fact that the appalling present is the “meantime” which their political activities, in opposition to the vigorous pursuit of socialism helped to bring into being. In any event, the attitude of genuine socialists is not one of passivity, awaiting a socialist millennium. it is one of active informed organisation for a better way of life.
Building a Strong Socialist Movement
The more reformists abandon their illusions and inadequate activities, seek to understand the nature of genuine socialism and play their part in building a strong World Socialist Movement, the more effective we can be against capitalism now, prior to an early transformation of society. Such a movement, with the clear objective of taking the means of production out of the hands of a minority and making them the common property of society, would become much more influential than the present parties of the “Left”.
Today many aware of past political errors, propose different approaches to the problems of humankind. They put forward schemes which though rightly concerned with holistic, ecologically benign, locally democratic, “human scale” production are still seen as being within the framework of money, wages, prices and profit. These proposals are attractive to a new political generation, which, failing to identify correctly the process responsible for our major problems, are likely to become a new wave of reformists.
The above comments, of course, are large generalisations, needing further elucidation and discussion. We hope that we have been able to interest you in our ideas and look forward to hearing from you or seeing you at one of our meetings.